On the January 15 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly said of Shawn Hornbeck -- who was abducted at the age of 11, held for four years, and recently found in Missouri -- that “there was an element here that this kid liked about this circumstances” and that he “do[esn't] buy” “the Stockholm syndrome thing." O'Reilly also said: “The situation here for this kid looks to me to be a lot more fun than what he had under his old parents. He didn't have to go to school. He could run around and do whatever he wanted.” When fellow Fox News host Greta Van Susteren pointed out that "[s]ome kids like school," O'Reilly replied: “Well, I don't believe this kid did.”
The following day, during his “Talking Points Memo” segment, O'Reilly responded to viewer mail criticizing his comments about Hornbeck. O'Reilly concluded: “I hope he did not make a conscious decision to accept his captivity because” his kidnapper “made things easy for him. No school, play all day long.”
From the January 16 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
O'REILLY: The kidnapping of those two boys should be front-page news in your house if you have kids. I actually hope I'm wrong about Shawn Hornbeck. I hope he did not make a conscious decision to accept his captivity because Devlin made things easy for him. No school, play all day long.
But to just chalk this up to brainwashing and walk away is turning away from the true danger of child molesters and abductors. All American children must be taught survival skills, must be prepared to face crisis situations. That is the lesson of the Shawn Hornbeck story. And that's the “Memo.”
From the January 15 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
O'REILLY: “Impact” segment tonight, the disturbing case of the two kidnapped boys in Missouri. As you know, police found 15-year-old Shawn Hornbeck in an apartment of 41-year-old Michael Devlin last week, along with 13-year-old Ben Ownby. Both boys allegedly had been kidnapped by Devlin, who ran a pizza place in the town of Kirkwood. Shawn had been missing for four years.
And the question is, why didn't he escape when he could have? There are all kinds of theories about that. Joining us now from Washington, Greta Van Susteren, who has been out to Missouri reporting on the case.
All right, you know, the Stockholm syndrome thing, I don't buy it. I've never bought it. I didn't think it happened in the Patty Hearst case. I don't think it happened here.
O'REILLY: I'm not buying this. If you're 11 years old or 12 years old, 13, and you have a strong bond with your family, OK, even if the guy threatens you, this and that, you're riding your bike around, you got friends. The kid didn't go to school. There's all kinds of stuff. If you can get away, you get away. All right? If you're 11.
O'REILLY: This is what I believe happened in the Hearst case and in this case. The situation that Hearst found herself in was exciting. She had a boring life. She was a child of privilege. All of a sudden, she's in with a bunch of charismatic thugs, and she enjoyed it. The situation here for this kid looks to me to be a lot more fun than what he had under his old parents. He didn't have to go to school. He could run around and do whatever he wanted.
VAN SUSTEREN: Some kids like school.
VAN SUSTEREN: Some kids like school.
O'REILLY: Well, I don't believe this kid did. And I think when it all comes down, what's going to happen is, there was an element here that this kid liked about his circumstances.
VAN SUSTEREN: So you're playing that same sort of thinking to this 11-year-old to 15-year-old. You're thinking logically. You think to yourself, “Why didn't he leave?” That's what most people think. Frankly, I had that thought as well.
But I think you've got to remember that this is a child. He doesn't -- you know, for whatever reason, he may have, you know, wanted to be with his kidnapper. Maybe his kidnapper turned out to be, quote, “a nice guy” or whatever. But this is a kid, Bill. And I think we've got to wait till we get all the facts.
O'REILLY: All right.
VAN SUSTEREN: It may turn out -- you may turn out to be right. I don't know.
O'REILLY: I usually do. I usually -- that usually is what happens.
VAN SUSTEREN: Especially when you're the jury.
O'REILLY: If I'm wrong, Greta, I'll -- you know, we'll play this tape and you'll get your points.
VAN SUSTEREN: At this point, I simply don't know. But I'll wait for the facts.
O'REILLY: All right. Greta will have more, On the Record, 10 Eastern. Thanks, Greta, as always.